Facial recognition technology and its uses are in the spotlight in New York.
New York Attorney General Letitia James is asking Madison Square Garden (MSG) Entertainment — the operator of Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and other venues in New York City — about its use of facial recognition technology to keep out certain ticketholders, according to a Wednesday (Jan. 25) press release.
In a letter to MSG Entertainment, James said that the company has used the technology to identify and deny entry to lawyers involved in litigation against it — to the extent that the policy has affected lawyers at 90 firms — and that the practice could violate laws.
James also asked about the reliability of facial recognition technology and whether there are safeguards in place to avoid bias and discrimination.
“Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall are world-renowned venues and should treat all patrons who purchased tickets with fairness and respect,” James said in the release. “Anyone with a ticket to an event should not be concerned that they may be wrongfully denied entry based on their appearance, and we’re urging MSG Entertainment to reverse this policy.”
A spokesperson for MSG Entertainment said in an email to PYMNTS: “To be clear, our policy does not unlawfully prohibit anyone from entering our venues and it is not our intent to dissuade attorneys from representing plaintiffs in litigation against us. We are merely excluding a small percentage of lawyers only during active litigation.
“Most importantly, to even suggest anyone is being excluded based on the protected classes identified in state and federal civil rights laws is ludicrous,” the spokesperson said. “Our policy has never applied to attorneys representing plaintiffs who allege sexual harassment or employment discrimination.”
In her letter to MSG Entertainment, James asked the company to respond by Feb. 13 with justifications of its current policy and explanations of its efforts to ensure that its use of facial recognition technology will not lead to discrimination.
Beyond these issues, facial recognition software is facing renewed scrutiny in the wake of several wrongful arrests and incorrect identification attempts.
As PYMNTS reported Jan. 8, mishaps have rekindled concerns about the new technology, which is in the midst of a widespread rollout and adaptation to new use cases.